Westminster City Council: Using audience segmentation for income generation

Audience analysis has helped Westminster Council to raise £900,000 for vulnerable residents through the Community Contribution campaign.

Communications support

The London borough of Westminster is a city of contrasts. Amongst the multi-million-pound homes and luxury apartments are pockets of severe deprivation. Residents in the highest-valued properties asked the council how they could contribute more to community projects in the borough. The law does not allow the raising of council tax for just one band and so an increase would affect less well-off households too.

Analysis of the Acorn geo-demographic data revealed the highest earners were likely to live in properties categorised as ‘Band H’ for Council tax. These were: Metropolitan Professionals (44 per cent), Metropolitan Money (35 per cent) and Exclusive Enclaves (11 per cent). All three groups prefer ‘mail – addressed to you by name’ and the latter two are not digitally engaged, so all communications were paper-based as well as digital. A survey was posted to Band H property owners and the results showed more than 400 people supported the Council to collect additional funds.

As a result, the Leader announced the ‘Community Contribution Levy’ in October 2017. Band H property owners were asked if they will consider voluntarily paying double the amount that they would normally contribute in Westminster’s share of the Council Tax. However, any voluntary amount is up to the contributor should they choose to take part. Funds are focused on:

  • Helping young people – investing in youth clubs
  • Extra support for people who find themselves sleeping on Westminster’s streets
  • Helping to tackle isolation and loneliness – not just amongst the elderly but across all age groups, including children

Learning from existing charities, the Council recognised customer segmentation could raise additional funds. To date, our most generous contributors have been from the ‘Exclusive Enclaves’ segment (4.4 per cent).  According to Acorn, they are likely to have premium bank accounts and are more likely than other types to have investments in shares, unit trusts and bonds. They may regularly read the financial press and dislike visiting bank branches, prefer to arrange their finances face to face with advisors. The variety and level of online shopping is generally well above most other types. Most tend to avoid use of social media sites. This is not a group to target with digital advertising, response will be very low. Westminster has indeed found that the majority the donations are posted bankers cheques rather than the digital methods available. Further, residents who have lived in the borough for over 20 years are 75 per cent more likely to contribute.

​Due to the incredible generosity of our residents, we’ve raised nearly £900,000 to date. The next step is to further engage the Metropolitan Professionals who form almost half of all Band H properties but were least likely to pay the levy (2.9 per cent contribution rate).

According to Acorn, this group regularly donates to homeless charities, and so this will form the key messaging in the next phase of the campaign. Metropolitan Professionals bank and shop online and so the campaign will raise awareness for the digital payment methods. Whilst they favour ‘mail -addressed to you by name’, Metropolitan Professionals are high users of LinkedIn and Instagram (for targeted advertising). The rate of engagement is monitored monthly.